A long commute might feel like a waste of time if you’re spending the entire time upset about it. And chances are that you’ve gotten used to a different kind of morning when working from home, so you’ll have to readjust to your journey to work. Data from Robert Half shows that 50 percent of all surveyed workers feel that traveling to and from the office is stressful. But what if you found a way to use that time productively to prime yourself for a great day? Read on for seven tips on making your long commute feel like an opportunity rather than a hassle.

1. Problem-solve

While you don’t have to use your long commute to work, sometimes the most productive way to use your time is to solve one problem. Think about one work topic, a project, or an issue with the team dynamic. What are the roots of the problem? Is there a way to communicate or delegate it away? How do we prevent it from happening again?

In addition to flexing your critical thinking skills, this exercise will also improve your working memory. Without the ability to write down your thoughts and reference them at a later time, you’ll be forced to remember the intricacies of your argument and explain them to your coworkers after a short period of time.

2. Get inspired

Another productive way to use your long commute is by having fun! Put on your favorite album, turn the volume up, and rock out. A study from the University of Rochester says that your brainwaves synchronize to the music you listen to, so faster, upbeat music can make you feel more focused and optimistic.

If you’re not in an especially musical mood, that’s okay – words are just as powerful as music. Put on a funny radio show or an inspiring audiobook to prime yourself for an inspiring day. Research shows that comedy and laughter boost productivity, as happy people work harder and accomplish more tasks in less time.

3. Utilize stop-and-go traffic

The most annoying part of a long commute is undoubtedly stop-and-go traffic, but there are plenty of ways to turn this annoyance into something relaxing. If you reframe your mindset around the irritating parts of your commute, you’ll come to work much more refreshed and less frazzled.

Studies show that stop-and-go traffic increases levels of anger and aggression, which ultimately impacts one’s memory and information processing. So if you see stop-and-go traffic start to emerge, try using the time to do something healing to steer yourself away from feelings of rage. These include a list of things you’re grateful for, a short meditation, or a couple of positive affirmations.

4. Learn something

Next, try using your long commute productively by learning something you might not have the time or energy to do otherwise. You can still learn languages from a language tape or use an app that’s commuter-friendly. You can also indulge your inner history nerd or get educated on political issues with a podcast.

Your quest for knowledge doesn’t have to end when you get out of the car or off the subway. Once you’re at work, you can head over to the watercooler or chat during your lunch hour, and tell your coworkers what you’ve learned – because we all know that the best way to learn is to teach.

5. Calling someone

You might not consider relationship-building as a feature of productivity. But remember that no matter what you’re doing, whether inside the office or out, you need a solid support system to help aid and uplift you through life. Without healthy relationships at home, you might experience what psychologists call “spillover effects,” when the stress of your home life causes your work to suffer.

In addition to helping your work life, you might end up bolstering the productivity of others you speak to as well. Your family or friends may not have the chance to talk about their days, hobbies, or life updates – and maybe you don’t either. But by devoting time to communicating with those closest to you, your special bonds can easily be nurtured.

6. Screen-free mindfulness

These days, driving might be the only time of day that your phone isn’t glued to your hand. You might even be tempted to check your email, send a text, or call a client in the car on the way to work. But this is your time and no one else’s, and you deserve to commune with your environment before a long day of screen-staring.

Look at the street signs, the restaurants, the shops, and the trees. See others in their cars or on the train – what are they doing during their commutes? Can you relate? Let your mind wander and really think about how your surroundings make you feel. It might give you a sense of peace and awareness that you can carry with you throughout the day.

7. Integrating your different selves

The last and most productive way to tackle your long commute is to use it mindfully. The journey from home to work (and back) gives you time to consciously shift between two important headspaces. And it can be helpful to consider the intricacies of each personality that you bring both into the workspace and your home.

By getting to know yourself a bit better – asking yourself how you’ll act in the office that day or how you’re looking forward to being once you get home – you can see the gaps in your behavior in certain aspects of your life. Then, when you can determine which parts of yourself you’re concealing either at home or the office, you can begin to break down those barriers. By thinking deeper about your identity, you can bring parts of yourself to work that you didn’t even know you were leaving at home.

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